Rosberg wins first Austrian Grand Prix in 11 years
Mercedes returns to winning form on Red Bull territory
Nico Rosberg has won the first Austrian Grand Prix in 11 years, leading Mercedes to a one-two win at the Red Bull Ring deemed as the unofficial home of the Red Bull Racing team.
Starting from third on the grid, Rosberg quickly jumped into the lead after an ill-timed first stop by the Williams team for Massa saw him fall back. Exchanging the lead momentarily with his teammate and a handful of other drivers throughout the course of the race, it would be Rosberg who held on to lead until the chequered flag with Lewis Hamilton crossing in second place.
Valtteri Bottas, starting from second on the grid this afternoon after a strong qualifying session yesterday, crossed the line third to put Williams on the podium whilst pole starter and teammate Felipe Massa finished fourth, scoring much needed point for the Williams outfit and reiterating their want, and ability, to challenge at the front of the grid this year.
Alonso finished fifth for Ferrari who continue to struggle for actual race pace, with Force India’s Sergio Perez in sixth just behind. Magnussen finished seventh for McLaren, well ahead of his experienced teammate Jenson Button who could only manage 11th, whilst Ricciardo, Hulkenberg and Raikkonen made up the remaining points scoring positions.
The win in Austria hands Mercedes AMG F1 team their seventh win of the 2014 season in just eight races; the Canadian Grand Prix is the only race this season in which a Mercedes driver has not won. It is also the fifth time Mercedes have finished a race in first and second place this year.
Felipe Massa, leading a Williams’ one-two pairing on the front row of the grid today, got the race underway as the red lights extinguished. It was the first race that Massa has started from pole position in since his crash in 2009 when he raced for Ferrari.
But whilst Massa was able to hold his position at the front, Rosberg quickly moved into second place ahead of Bottas into turn one, before Bottas quickly took the place back from Rosberg on the outside into turn two. Furthermore, Lewis Hamilton, starting from ninth on the grid this morning, got off to a fantastic start and moved into fourth place ahead of Ferrari’s Fernando Alonso and just behind his Mercedes teammate Nico Rosberg in third.
Sebastian Vettel’s weekend went from bad to worse when he had to slow and almost stop the car on track. Reporting to the team that he had ‘no drive’ on lap 2, the team instructed Vettel turn off the car before Vettel’s car came back to life and Vettel was able to carry on, albeit a full racing lap down by just lap 4. On lap 6, Red Bull instructed Vettel to ‘go racing’ after what appeared to be a software glitch had been fixed.
By lap 10, the top four of Massa, Bottas, Rosberg and Hamilton found themselves within DRS range of each other, adding further excitement to what was already playing out to be a tightly fought battle for the win early in the race. Daniel Ricciardo, winner of the Canadian Grand Prix just two weeks earlier, struggled with his start and fell back in the early chaos of a race start. He pit on lap 11 from 12th place, changing his tyres and rejoining in a lowly 19th, though the Marussia’s and Caterham’s ahead were yet to pit.
Rosberg and Hamilton’s in-team rivalry continued into the first round of stops when Rosberg stopped for the first time a full two laps ahead of Hamilton. When Hamilton pit, he would rejoin just behind Rosberg again. Massa stopped two laps later again from the lead, but was unable to jump the Mercedes of Nico Rosberg who inherited the lead as Massa came back out to racing. Massa split the Mercedes dup for a brief second before Hamilton took the place from Massa going into turn two. Bottas then pit a lap later from the lead and would rejoin between Rosberg and Hamilton too. Hamilton was then unable to emulate his move a lap earlier and could not pass Bottas at the second turn.
The first stop of the afternoon effectively dropped Massa from first to fourth in one move, a strategy call that was questionable by a Williams team inexperienced with leading a race for the past decade.
Sergio Perez took over to lead the race after both Williams’ and Mercedes’ had completed their first stop. Perez was yet to complete his first stop but Force India was happy for their driver to lead as long as he ‘wasn’t losing any time’ himself. Further back in the pack and Sauber’s Esteban Gutierrez was handed a 10 second stop/go penalty for unsafe release when the team let him go from him pit box without his rear right wheel fixed on and Sebastian Vettel continued to run in 22nd place and still a full lap down.
Pirelli’s rubber continues to impress in Austria with many drivers able to manage their tyres and stay out for long stints. By lap 25, McLaren’s Jenson Button, Lotus’ Pastor Maldonado and Force India’s Sergio Perez to name a few, had still not stopped for new tyres. Lap 26 marked the end of the point at which all 22 drivers were still running in the race. Toro Rosso’s Daniil Kvyat pulled the car off the track at Turn 4 with what looked to be a rear puncture. It was the first retirement of the race.
Perez finally stopped for the first time on lap 33, surrendering the lead back to Rosberg ahead of Bottas, Hamilton and Massa. Perez’s stop was less than perfect; the car was static for almost 5 seconds before being released Perez joined back in eighth place.
Sebastian Vettel’s race finally came to an end on lap 37. Being luck to get over halfway through the race, Vettel struggled to make up any ground from the back of the pack all afternoon and the team called an end to the day before the car suffered from a serious problem that would affect them going forward. Vettel became the second driver to retire from the race.
Hamilton stopped for the second time on lap 40 as Mercedes made an attempt to once again jump the Williams. Rejoining in fifth, Rosberg pit for his second stop on the following lap. Stopping from the lead, Bottas moved back into the lead with Massa just behind in second. Rosberg rejoined in front of Lewis Hamilton. Bottas stopped on lap 42, but Hamilton had put a blindingly quick lap in which kept not one, but both Mercedes ahead of Bottas going into the final stint of the race.
Jules Bianchi, who struggled in Canada and didn’t make it one lap before being taken out by his teammate, stopped for the first time in the afternoon on lap 43, proving the durability of the soft tyre that Pirelli brought to Austria this weekend.
With 20 laps remaining, Mercedes instructed both of their drivers, running in first and second, that their brakes would need management for them to make it to the end of the race. Mercedes also encouraged Hamilton to pick up the pace, telling their driver that his tyres were in better condition than Rosberg’s with 18 laps remaining. Massa was also instructed to watch his tyres, which he would need to defend from Alonso towards the end of the race.
With 12 laps to go, Hamilton was told his brakes were on the limit but he would continue to push, adamant to catch his teammate for the lead and with ample time to do so. Jean-Eric Vergne retired with ‘no brakes’ on lap 61 giving the Toro Rosso team a double DNF for the day and taking the retirement count to three for the race; all retirements being under the Red Bull family umbrella.
Nico Rosberg would ultimately see off the battle from Lewis Hamilton, winning the Grand Prix with just over a seconds’ gap. Valtteri Bottas crossed the line in third with teammate Felipe Massa in fourth. Lotus once again finished out of the points whilst Marussia were able to manage a 15th place finish for Jules Bianchi and 17th for Max Chilton. Both Caterham’s also finished today’s race.
Mercedes continues to dominate the Constructors’ World Championship and Drivers’ World Championship standings – the team leads the Constructors’ by a huge margin whilst both drivers are first and second in the Drivers’ going into round 9 of the 2014 season.
The calendar resumes in two weeks’ time for the 2014 Formula 1 Santander British Grand Prix in Silverstone on the weekend of July 04 – 06.
|01||Nico Rosberg||Mercedes AMG||71 laps - 1h27m54.976s||2|
|02||Lewis Hamilton||Mercedes AMG||+1.932||2|
|03||Valtteri Bottas||Williams Mercedes||+8.172||2|
|04||Felipe Massa||Williams Mercedes||+17.358||2|
|06||Sergio Perez||Force India Mercedes||+28.546||2|
|07||Kevin Magnussen||McLaren Mercedes||+32.031||2|
|08||Daniel Ricciardo||Red Bull Renault||+43.522||2|
|09||Nico Hulkenberg||Force India Mercedes||+44.137||2|
|11||Jenson Button||McLaren Mercedes||+50.966||2|
|12||Pastor Maldonado||Lotus Renault||+1 lap||2|
|13||Adrian Sutil||Sauber Ferrari||+1 lap||2|
|14||Romain Grosjean||Lotus Renault||+1 lap||2|
|15||Jules Bianchi||Marussia Ferrari||+2 laps||1|
|16||Kamui Kobayashi||Caterham Renault||+2 laps||1|
|17||Max Chilton||Marussia Ferrari||+2 laps||1|
|18||Marcus Ericsson||Caterham Renault||+2 laps||2|
|19||Esteban Gutierrez||Sauber Ferrari||+2 laps||3|
|20||Jean-Eric Vergne||Toro Rosso Renault||DNF||3|
|21||Sebastian Vettel||Red Bull Renault||DNF||3|
|22||Daniil Kvyat||Toro Rosso Renault||DNF||1|